As techcom professionals, we have been talking about authoring in XML for a very long time. At first, it was a lot of hype about a format that required major programming skills and had zero tools’ support, but that is now changing. Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tools that support XML and a standard called DITA that is in constant development to support content publishing for different industries. As a result, more and more companies seem to be embracing this content format.If you are a writer or techcom manager who is encouraging your company to make this change, then what do you need to know to prepare?
The move toward XML-based authoring in technical publications is a classic paradigm shift. It requires content creators to change their writing process and learn new concepts.
Structured authoring isn't just for technical writers. Just about any department in an organization can benefit from it. This article looks at one way of bringing structured authoring to the masses: by adopting the authoring concepts used in an obscure word processor called Yeah Write.
While the concepts of structured authoring are more than just slightly useful for technical writing, they can be beneficial for just about any writing task within an organization. But how do you bring XML-based structured authoring to the masses? Perhaps by taking a cue from a word processor called Yeah Write.
Recent trends in XML content authoring demonstrate increasing shift towards advanced reuse patterns and multi-source compound document architectures. This imposes completely new requirements for the XML authoring tools, most of which were originally developed for narrative document authoring and architectures like Docbook or TEI. The key requirement is the ability to provide a single, transparent, directly editable view for such complex documents.
MS Word is not an XML authoring tool, no matter what your IT team believes. While Word may indeed understand and use some XML, it doesn't use XML in the way technical communicators need it to. Instead, it uses XML to transfer information back and forth between MS Office products. Useful? Yes. XML authoring? Not even close.
XML for use in technical publications is growing in popularity. As the author explains, technical writers are likely to become more and more involved in XML document production in the future. This article looks at the many benefits of XML authoring and the trend that's moving technical publications toward structured content.
Organizations are moving business documents to structured XML authoring -- a technology that was once reserved for only the bravest of technical publications departments. They are using new tools that make the transition much easier, even for completely non-technical authors, and they are reaping benefits that will drive structured authoring in XML across the entire organization.